Recombinants of amphotropic murine leukemia virus (A-MuLV) have found widespread use in retroviral vector systems due to their ability to efficiently and stably infect cells of several different species, including human. Previous work has shown that replication-competent recombinants containing the amphotropic env gene, encoding the major SU envelope glycoprotein that determines host tropism, induce lymphomas in vivo. We show here that these viruses also induce a spongiform encephalomyelopathy in mice inoculated perinatally. This fatal central nervous system disease is characterized by noninflammatory spongiform lesions of nerve and glial cells and their processes, and is associated with moderate astro- and microgliosis. The first clinical symptoms are ataxia, tremor, and spasticity, progressing to complete tetraparesis and incontinence, and finally death of the animal. Sequences within the amphotropic env gene are necessary for disease induction. Coinfection of A-MuLV recombinants with nonneuropathogenic ecotropic or polytropic MuLV drastically increases the incidence, degree, and distribution of the neurodegenerative disorder. The consequence of these results in view of the use of A-MuLV recombinants in the clinic is discussed.